FRONT ROYAL – A woman accused of assaulting and wounding her mother in October can avoid jail by remaining on good behavior for two years.
Hope Andrea Sinclair appeared in Warren County Circuit Court on Friday where she stood charged with felony malicious wounding. Police accused Sinclair, 25, of Front Royal, of assaulting her mother, Jennifer Sinclair on Oct. 1. Authorities charged the defendant in Warren County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court with domestic assault. The court dismissed the charge at the request of the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney, which then had Sinclair indicted directly on Jan. 28.
An agreement reached between Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Samantha Meadows and Hope Sinclair’s lawyer John S. Bell called for the defendant to plead guilty under Alford v. North Carolina to one count of malicious wounding. A defendant who enters an Alford plea maintains his or her innocence but admits the prosecutor has sufficient evidence, and he or she does not want to risk a conviction at a trial before a judge or jury.
Malicious wounding carries a maximum punishment of five years in the state penitentiary.
The agreement calls for the court to defer adjudication of the case for two years during which time Sinclair must be on supervised probation. The agreement then calls for the court to reduce Sinclair’s charge to misdemeanor assault and battery and sentence her to 12 months in jail, all time suspended, at the end of the two-year period if she complies with the terms of the supervised probation.
Judge Clifford L. Athey Jr. accepted Sinclair’s plea and the agreement, then deferred the disposition of the case to May 17, 2021.
Meadows provided a summary of the evidence she intended to present had the case gone to trial. Front Royal police officer Robbie Lowery responded to 518 Belair Ave. on Oct. 1 for a report of a physical domestic altercation. An emergency dispatcher advised Lowery that the mother and daughter were separated. The officer arrived and spoke with the victim, who had a scratch on her face, redness in the neck area and a swollen right hand, according to information provided to the court.
Jennifer Sinclair told the officer she had picked up her daughter from the Knotty Pine bar and they began arguing on the way home, Meadows said. Jennifer Sinclair stated that as she pulled into the driveway, Hope Sinclair got her daughter out of the car, then went back into the vehicle and grabbed Jennifer Sinclair’s face and throat area. The victim told the officer that the fight continued into the yard and then they both went inside the residence. The two began to fight inside the residence until law enforcement was called.
The officer said Hope Sinclair showed no signs of assault and she denied hitting her mother. The officer arrested Hope Sinclair and charged her with assault and battery of a family member.
Correction: An earlier version of this story should have identified the Warren County Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney as Samantha Meadows.